Once upon a time, people were in tune with celestial cycles and patterns. Having grown up in a place where the stars were always bright and clear, where the milky way was a great big stripe you could actually see in the sky, I have grew to have quite an appreciation for the sparkling sky. Except I didn’t realize it until I left.
The year we moved to Phoenix, the city was exceptionally beautiful. It rained a lot, and we got here just as the orange trees were blossoming. It’s a scent not to be missed – akin to the scent of rain in southern New Mexico. Anyway, it wasn’t until I had lived here for a few months that I realized, I miss the stars.
If you’ve ever taken an astronomy class you know that the moon has phases and cycles and maybe you even know what they’re called and what they mean. I used to… I knew it long enough to pass the test and get an A, anyway. But aside from simply looking at the moon and sending it my appreciation, I’m not very familiar with it’s cycles. I rely on the much more boring calendar to know what season it is, unfortunately.
I think it’s unfortunate that we’ve gotten so removed from nature. It turns out that this time of year, early spring, is known as the egg moon, also known as the seed moon. It’s known for this because this is when chickens start to produce more eggs. This happens because the days are getting longer and the light stimulates the hen’s pituitary gland, which produces a hormone that results in them laying more eggs.
We don’t know about this in our culture because eggs are readily available year round, in seeming abundance, at rock bottom prices. What most people don’t know, or close their eyes to, is that the poor hens that produce these eggs are living absolutely miserable lives. They know nothing of the night sky, stars or moon. Instead, they’re kept in constant light, so that their bodies are tricked into believing it’s always spring – so that they lay the most eggs possible.
I understand not everyone can afford to buy eggs directly from a farmer, as they’re often much more pricey than the mass produced ones, but I do think people should sound off about the conditions they live in a little more. And those that can afford to buy elsewhere, should. We should also be a little more cognizant of the sky.. the stars, and the moon. The sun.. for without them we wouldn’t be here.
This recipe is to celebrate the egg moon, and the hens (and other animals!) that lay eggs for our consumption. Through this recipe we also celebrate spring – the only time of year when we can find fresh asparagus at the farmer’s market. Thank you, all of you.
Thanks also to Jessica Prentice, the author of Full Moon Feast: Food and the Connection for Hunger for kicking me down on the egg moon knowledge. And also to my friend Liz, for buying me the book.
Asparagus and Leek Frittata
1 small bunch asparagus, about 3/4 pound
1 large or 2 small leeks
2 tablespoons butter
4-5 eggs, preferably from a family farm
1/4 cream, or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated raw white cheddar, or cheese of your choice
Preheat oven to 300°.
Break off the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal.
Slice the leeks into thick rounds. Put them in a bowl of cold water and mix to get the dirt out.
Melt the butter in an oven-safe skillet. When it’s hot, lift the leeks out of the water in handfuls, shaking off any excess water, and put into pan. Saute over medium heat until just tender.
Add the asparagus pieces to the pan along with about a tablespoon of water. Cover the pan and allow the asparagus to steam for 1 to 3 minutes, until just tender.
Meanwhile, mix together the eggs with cream or milk, then add the salt and pepper.
Pour the egg mixture over the leeks and asparagus, then add the cheese, pressing it gently into the eggs. Cook on the stovetop over low heat for a minute or two, then transfer to the oven and bake until the eggs are set (this could be as little as 5 minutes).
Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes, then slice and eat.